Being a proud cat owner can be exciting as you get to raise a beloved feline to share many great memories with. However, when it comes to knowing what to feed your cat, it can be stressful as a cat parent. This is due to the sheer quantity of cat food options in today’s market. And, unfortunately, many of these cat food brands and diets today aren’t of the highest quality.
As a cat owner, you want to be feeding your feline only the very best. That’s why in this article, you’ll learn about the difference between feeding your cat a raw cat food diet versus a grain-free cat food diet. Although no cat is the same, by understanding some key advantages and disadvantages of each diet, you can better decide which diet option is right for your cat to live a happy, healthy lifestyle.
A raw cat food diet consists of feeding your cat exclusively raw food with only raw, unprocessed ingredients. Another term commonly used is ‘BARF cat food’ which refers to Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. This includes things like raw meat, fish, and other forms of raw food. As long as it is hygienically prepared, feeding your cat a raw food diet can be extremely beneficial. This is because raw food is high in protein which will help your cat to grow to be healthy and strong. Likewise, you won’t have to worry about your cat eating processed, harmful ingredients that commercial cat foods sometimes contain.
A cat also gets to experience its true “wild” cat nature just as its ancestors did living out in the wild. This is because most cats have it in their nature to eat raw meat just like their ancestors did. Therefore, eating a raw food diet is natural for your cat.
Other common advantages to feeding your cat a raw food diet include:
- Better Coat and Skin Health
- Improved Dental Health
- More Energy
Adding vegetables to your cat’s raw food diet is also beneficial in rounding out their meals.
One key disadvantage to note is you must prepare your raw cat food safely so as to not harm your cat or those in your household. This means you should be washing your hands and other surfaces you may have touched while tending to the raw cat food you are preparing for your beloved feline. Likewise, this means properly freezing the raw meat until used.
Meanwhile, a grain-free cat food diet consists of, as the term describes, no grains. Therefore, because gluten is a component of grain, this inevitably means that a grain-free diet is a gluten-free diet.
Grains consist of ingredients like barley, corn, oats, rice, or wheat. Therefore, any cat food that is labeled as grain-free will not have such ingredients.
One of the common misconceptions about a cat eating a grain-free diet is that since it is gluten-free, the cat must be benefiting from eating a gluten-free diet. However, unlike how being gluten-free in human nutritional standards is seen as healthy, the benefits of being or needing to be gluten-free in a cat are rare. Unless your cat is on a particular treatment plan or diet that requires them to not eat grains in order to reduce rare food sensitivities or allergies, cats not eating grains isn’t an absolute must.
With that said, it is worth noting that specific cats that are diagnosed as having an allergy to grains should thus eat a grain-free diet. If you are unsure whether your cat should be on a grain-free diet due to a grain allergy, look out for certain symptoms like hair loss, itchiness, and any intestinal issues.
Another important note is that cats really don’t need carbohydrates to survive. Cats thrive off a high-protein diet. Therefore, the idea of a grain-free diet may seem like the way to go. However, just because cats don’t require carbs doesn’t mean they cannot still obtain energy from carbs.
One thing to consider with grain-free cat food is it’s often packed out with preservatives, additives and other synthetic ingredients which are not beneficial to their health. In an optimal human diet, we do as much as we can to minimize these kinds of ingredients. Likewise, we should do our best to reduce these ingredients in our cat’s diet.
Ultimately, the grain-free diet trend popular among humans has transitioned over to cats.
Overall, both raw cat food and grain-free cat food rely on protein-rich diet plans. However, the diets themselves are rather different. Raw cat food consists of meats, vegetables, and other ingredients that are not processed and is naturally grain-free. Although it is extremely common for quality raw cat foods to not have any added fillers or grains, this does not mean a raw cat food diet is the same as a grain-free diet. This is because a grain-free diet can still have processed ingredients, like processed meats, which is not the case in a raw food diet.
Another important factor to consider is whether your cat is getting enough taurine in their diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats to help prevent a whole host of severe health conditions. This amino acid can only be attained through their diet. Raw meat is abundant in taurine. Many processed or heat treated cat food lack sufficient levels of taurine as heat damages the amount of taurine present in the food.
Ultimately, although a raw cat food and grain-free cat food diet are similar in respect to not having grains, this does not mean they are the same. Raw food is entirely made of unprocessed meats and vegetables whereas a grain-free diet can still have processed meats/other ingredients.